So with word circulating around the industry of a possible Cisco spin-in developing a cloudy switch for SDN (software-defined networking) and/or distributed data storage, what's the status of Cisco's "Jawbreaker" fabric switching project?
Sources in the fabric and SDN industry say Jawbreaker, which was to be a merchant silicon-based response to Juniper's QFabric, has either been:
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- Refocused toward the enterprise campus as a Catalyst switch adjunct
- Repositioned into Insieme, the not-so-stealthy startup spin-in run by Cisco's top three engineers -- Mario Mazzola, Luca Cafiero and Prem Jain
- Or killed entirely due to the apparent challenges Juniper's facing with QFabric. QFabric's lengthy trial and ramp cycle no longer requires a competitive marketing response from Cisco, some sources believe.
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Cisco has never publicly acknowledged the existence of the Jawbreaker project, which came to light 13 months ago, so information from sources couldn't be confirmed. A year ago, sources said Jawbreaker was based on Broadcom's Trident+ chipset and had two components: A fabric core with 40G interfaces and a 48-port 10G switch with 40G uplinks. It was to ship later this year, sources said at the time.
It still might. But now that Cisco's rolled out 40G Ethernet modules for the Nexus 7000 and perhaps some uplinks soon for the Nexus 5000s (PDF), as well as extending Nexus Fabric Extenders, it at least appears that Nexus and FabricPath are fairly well along in the data center fabric investment and development cycle.
As a result, Jawbreaker has been retargeted toward the enterprise, some fabric sources believe. Its application there could be a higher-speed, lower-latency campuswide fabric as an adjunct or upgrade to the Catalyst installed base.
"It's being done by the Catalyst group," one fabric source said. "It may be refocused on campus only. But as a data center fabric, the rumor mill seems to be losing some steam."